TRASH: Should city pick up once every two weeks?

News Apr 05, 2016 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The contentious bi-weekly garbage pickup debate is poised to resurface — despite being dumped on twice by previous councils.

Other large Ontario municipalities like Toronto, Ottawa, Halton and Peel are increasingly adopting every-second-week trash collection as a way to save cash — and convince reluctant residents to recycle and compost.

Hamilton has twice trashed the notion since 2007. Councillors most recently jettisoned a staff bi-weekly proposal in 2013 in favour of keeping weekly pickup with a one-bag or can limit. Residents also get up to 26 tags per year allowing them to set out extra bags.

Waste staff will report on various collection options as part of a larger review in advance of new contract tenders in 2018, operations director Betty Matthews-Malone said Monday. (While city workers pick up trash in the lower city, private companies handle recycling citywide and trash on the Mountain.)

There's no formal proposal yet. But advisory committee minutes talking up the benefits of bi-weekly collection spurred Coun. Tom Jackson to "put the red flags up."

Jackson argued the "messy debates" of the past revolved around questions like whether citizens would view bi-weekly service as a service reduction and how to deal with "smelly animal feces" or a possible spike in illegal dumping.

What do you think of garbagecollection every two weeks inHamilton?

"There were serious question back then, and for me, those questions remain unanswered," he said.

In 2013, staff pitched bi-weekly trash pickup — combined with weekly recycling and compost collection — as a way to save more than $1 million a year and improve Hamilton's lagging diversion rate, the amount of waste we keep out of the landfill. (We still trash more than we recycle or compost.)

A recent "trash audit" — workers picking through bags of trash by hand — suggests 41 per cent of the average garbage bag is still food waste the city wants you to compost.

"From an economic and environmental perspective, I can see why they (bureaucrats) would want to pursue it," said Coun. Sam Merulla. "But from a social or fairness perspective, it just doesn't add up for residents. If they don't see that direction correlation to a tax savings, then they feel it's a cut in services."

Merulla added the urgency of keeping bags out of the dump has lessened as technological advances have increased the overall capacity of the Glanbrook landfill, which now has an estimated 35-plus years remaining.

Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik argued that urgency remains. "Given what most people think about the prospect of setting up a new incinerator, I'm surprised we're not thinking harder about what ends up in the trash bag we put out every week," she said.

Lukasik added she understands some residents will have "special circumstances" that warrant exceptions, like medical conditions or even big families using many diapers. "But plenty of cities have programs in place to accommodate those people who need it," she said.

Jackson said he questions the implied characterization of bi-weekly cities being more "progressive," noting Halton allows up to three bags to be collected every two weeks. "By my arithmetic, we still have stricter limit."

The staff advisory minutes say "most" larger municipalities have already or are planning a transition to bi-weekly collection. Windsor and Niagara, however, still collect weekly.

The eventual staff report will also look at the implications of planned provincial waste regulation changes that may see manufacturers take more responsibility for the packaging they create. Matthews-Malone said she wants the report to go to council this year.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

TRASH: Should city pick up once every two weeks?

News Apr 05, 2016 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The contentious bi-weekly garbage pickup debate is poised to resurface — despite being dumped on twice by previous councils.

Other large Ontario municipalities like Toronto, Ottawa, Halton and Peel are increasingly adopting every-second-week trash collection as a way to save cash — and convince reluctant residents to recycle and compost.

Hamilton has twice trashed the notion since 2007. Councillors most recently jettisoned a staff bi-weekly proposal in 2013 in favour of keeping weekly pickup with a one-bag or can limit. Residents also get up to 26 tags per year allowing them to set out extra bags.

Waste staff will report on various collection options as part of a larger review in advance of new contract tenders in 2018, operations director Betty Matthews-Malone said Monday. (While city workers pick up trash in the lower city, private companies handle recycling citywide and trash on the Mountain.)

There's no formal proposal yet. But advisory committee minutes talking up the benefits of bi-weekly collection spurred Coun. Tom Jackson to "put the red flags up."

Jackson argued the "messy debates" of the past revolved around questions like whether citizens would view bi-weekly service as a service reduction and how to deal with "smelly animal feces" or a possible spike in illegal dumping.

What do you think of garbagecollection every two weeks inHamilton?

"There were serious question back then, and for me, those questions remain unanswered," he said.

In 2013, staff pitched bi-weekly trash pickup — combined with weekly recycling and compost collection — as a way to save more than $1 million a year and improve Hamilton's lagging diversion rate, the amount of waste we keep out of the landfill. (We still trash more than we recycle or compost.)

A recent "trash audit" — workers picking through bags of trash by hand — suggests 41 per cent of the average garbage bag is still food waste the city wants you to compost.

"From an economic and environmental perspective, I can see why they (bureaucrats) would want to pursue it," said Coun. Sam Merulla. "But from a social or fairness perspective, it just doesn't add up for residents. If they don't see that direction correlation to a tax savings, then they feel it's a cut in services."

Merulla added the urgency of keeping bags out of the dump has lessened as technological advances have increased the overall capacity of the Glanbrook landfill, which now has an estimated 35-plus years remaining.

Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik argued that urgency remains. "Given what most people think about the prospect of setting up a new incinerator, I'm surprised we're not thinking harder about what ends up in the trash bag we put out every week," she said.

Lukasik added she understands some residents will have "special circumstances" that warrant exceptions, like medical conditions or even big families using many diapers. "But plenty of cities have programs in place to accommodate those people who need it," she said.

Jackson said he questions the implied characterization of bi-weekly cities being more "progressive," noting Halton allows up to three bags to be collected every two weeks. "By my arithmetic, we still have stricter limit."

The staff advisory minutes say "most" larger municipalities have already or are planning a transition to bi-weekly collection. Windsor and Niagara, however, still collect weekly.

The eventual staff report will also look at the implications of planned provincial waste regulation changes that may see manufacturers take more responsibility for the packaging they create. Matthews-Malone said she wants the report to go to council this year.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

TRASH: Should city pick up once every two weeks?

News Apr 05, 2016 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The contentious bi-weekly garbage pickup debate is poised to resurface — despite being dumped on twice by previous councils.

Other large Ontario municipalities like Toronto, Ottawa, Halton and Peel are increasingly adopting every-second-week trash collection as a way to save cash — and convince reluctant residents to recycle and compost.

Hamilton has twice trashed the notion since 2007. Councillors most recently jettisoned a staff bi-weekly proposal in 2013 in favour of keeping weekly pickup with a one-bag or can limit. Residents also get up to 26 tags per year allowing them to set out extra bags.

Waste staff will report on various collection options as part of a larger review in advance of new contract tenders in 2018, operations director Betty Matthews-Malone said Monday. (While city workers pick up trash in the lower city, private companies handle recycling citywide and trash on the Mountain.)

There's no formal proposal yet. But advisory committee minutes talking up the benefits of bi-weekly collection spurred Coun. Tom Jackson to "put the red flags up."

Jackson argued the "messy debates" of the past revolved around questions like whether citizens would view bi-weekly service as a service reduction and how to deal with "smelly animal feces" or a possible spike in illegal dumping.

What do you think of garbagecollection every two weeks inHamilton?

"There were serious question back then, and for me, those questions remain unanswered," he said.

In 2013, staff pitched bi-weekly trash pickup — combined with weekly recycling and compost collection — as a way to save more than $1 million a year and improve Hamilton's lagging diversion rate, the amount of waste we keep out of the landfill. (We still trash more than we recycle or compost.)

A recent "trash audit" — workers picking through bags of trash by hand — suggests 41 per cent of the average garbage bag is still food waste the city wants you to compost.

"From an economic and environmental perspective, I can see why they (bureaucrats) would want to pursue it," said Coun. Sam Merulla. "But from a social or fairness perspective, it just doesn't add up for residents. If they don't see that direction correlation to a tax savings, then they feel it's a cut in services."

Merulla added the urgency of keeping bags out of the dump has lessened as technological advances have increased the overall capacity of the Glanbrook landfill, which now has an estimated 35-plus years remaining.

Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik argued that urgency remains. "Given what most people think about the prospect of setting up a new incinerator, I'm surprised we're not thinking harder about what ends up in the trash bag we put out every week," she said.

Lukasik added she understands some residents will have "special circumstances" that warrant exceptions, like medical conditions or even big families using many diapers. "But plenty of cities have programs in place to accommodate those people who need it," she said.

Jackson said he questions the implied characterization of bi-weekly cities being more "progressive," noting Halton allows up to three bags to be collected every two weeks. "By my arithmetic, we still have stricter limit."

The staff advisory minutes say "most" larger municipalities have already or are planning a transition to bi-weekly collection. Windsor and Niagara, however, still collect weekly.

The eventual staff report will also look at the implications of planned provincial waste regulation changes that may see manufacturers take more responsibility for the packaging they create. Matthews-Malone said she wants the report to go to council this year.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec